Fulfilling Big Dreams: Q&A with THE ICONIC

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 20 Dec 2019

In early December, THE ICONIC unveiled the upgrade to its fulfilment centre, Yennora 2. We sat down with Anna Lee, the Chief Operating Officer at THE ICONIC to discuss the future of the Aussie e-commerce company.

THE ICONIC’s new fulfilment centre, Yennora 2, is the latest addition for the online retailer’s delivery promise. The first introduction of Yennora Fulfilment Centre began in 2018, becoming the ‘first online retailer in Australia’ to integrate an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) and sorter tray technology. The centre spans with a 28,000sqm footprint and 46,000sqm fulfilment space.

THE ICONIC’s new fulfilment centre is a huge step forward for the retailer. How will customers benefit from this newly developed establishment? How will Yennora 2 reduce friction for The Iconic shoppers? Will this be a launching pad for faster delivery for Australian consumers?

“Since moving into our Yennora Fulfilment Centre in 2017, we have embarked on a multi-year expansion plan to scale in line with our growing commercial and customer expectations,” she tells Power Retail. “Earlier this month we officially launched Yennora 2, which has seen us more than double the size and scale of our Fulfilment Centre. Now equipped with one of the largest mezzanine and pick tower constructions in the Southern Hemisphere, this key expansion upgrade will enable THE ICONIC to grow our inventory from 1.55 million units, to an overall capacity of over 3.75 million units.”

“In line with our multi-year expansion plan, this upgrade follows the launch of a number of key growth initiatives over the past two years, including the introduction of our Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) and sortation in 2018, which allows orders to be fulfilled in as little as 10 minutes. When it comes to our Fulfilment Centre expansion, THE ICONIC now boasts the largest online fashion Fulfilment Centre in the country, equipping us with the capability and scale to support our current and future customer base in new and exciting ways, as we define a new era of retail across Australia and New Zealand in 2020 and beyond.”

The extension of the fulfilment centre includes an increase of daily customers to 50,000. How important is it for THE ICONIC to secure a reliable fulfilment centre for the coming decade?

“It’s absolutely essential. In 2011, THE ICONIC set out on a journey to redefine the future of retail in Australia and New Zealand. Since then, we have been evolving the way Australians and New Zealanders shop online by continually lifting market standards through:

  • Curating the most inspiring world-class brand assortment across fashion and sportswear
  • Creating the retail experience of the future through a continual focus on tech innovation
  • Ensuring we remain culturally relevant, with our purpose of ‘Liberation’ at the heart of everything we do
  • Assembling a market-leading e-commerce team in Australia by recruiting and retaining some of the best talent from both home and abroad.

As an online fashion retailer, fulfilment is a key touchpoint in our customer experience and future-proofing this function is crucial for us in ensuring we are equipped to support our current and future growth and continue to create the most seamless and inspiring experience for our customers,” Lee says.

THE ICONIC has hailed itself as being the ‘first online retailer in Australia’ to integrate an ASRS and sorter tray technology. What were some of the immediate results of this integration, and was it difficult to transition with the new technology?

“The introduction of an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) and sorter tray enables us to increase fulfilment capacity by 40 percent, allowing orders to be fulfilled in as little as 10 minutes,” Lee tells Power Retail. “Everything we do at THE ICONIC is underpinned by market-leading tech and this extends well beyond our customer-facing onsite experience. Our Fulfilment Centre team embraced the introduction of this new technology, playing a key role in the design and roll-out of each step. For us, the adoption of ASRS hugely benefited our team, improving day to day functions, along with offering improved career paths with more technically challenging roles. The introduction of this technology further supported team growth with new roles in addition to our existing picking teams.”

Yennora 2 spans with a 28,000sqm footprint and 46,000sqm fulfilment space – could you please explain what this means for the retailer, and how it will encourage shoppers to purchase from THE ICONIC?

“This upgrade sees THE ICONIC now have one of the most well equipped and technologically advanced Fulfilment Centres in the Southern Hemisphere. The expansion has offered an additional 15,000sqm across two levels, with an additional 20km of shelving across 130,000 unique locations. The capabilities that this offers for our customers as we continue to redefine the future of retail is two-fold. It not only means access to more stock and sizing but will enable us to continue to grow our world-class assortment with new inspiring capabilities, offering seamless access to an even greater brand, product and trend selection into the future,” she explains.

As we enter 2020, online retail is becoming more prevalent for Australian shoppers. What do you expect to be one of the biggest trends for e-commerce in the next decade, and how is THE ICONIC shaping the future of e-commerce?

“When it comes to future-proofing our customer experience into 2020 and beyond, key themes we are hearing from our customers include – increased personalisation, more agile delivery options, a greater focus on sustainability, along with access to a more diverse and inclusive assortment,” Lee tells us.

“Customers are at the heart of what we do at THE ICONIC, and we are incredibly proud to have made amazing progress laddering to these customer experience trends this year. Last month we hosted our annual Summer Show, which saw us champion what it means to be human with one of the world’s most inclusive and representative runway shows. We also released our first Annual Progress Report, which documents our efforts and commitments for our social, environmental and cultural responsibility in 2020 – 2022.”

“This report followed the introduction of THE ICONIC Considered in April, which is a tech filter that helps customers shop by their personal sustainability values. We also evolved tech features such as ‘Snap to Shop’, ‘Follow the Brand’, ‘Wishlist Boards’, ‘Find Your Fit’, and launched our AR try-on feature, ‘VISUALISE’; all of which are only the beginning of what we’re building to create a more personalised approach for our customers,” Lee explains. “When it comes to delivery, we are continuously looking at how we create even greater customer convenience and just this week launched a first-of-its-kind trial initiative in partnership with General Pants and Parcelpoint. We all know that Christmas can be a crazy time of year, so this trial will allow our Sydney customers to choose a delivery option that includes picking-up orders and returns from General Pants flagship Sydney store. This is yet another way we’re looking to make shopping as convenient and easy for our customers as possible.”

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